The Nationals, playing the first Fall Classic game in franchise history, ultimately claimed victory. Their 5-4 win at Minute Maid Park gave them a 1-0 advantage over the Astros, heading into Wednesday night’s Game 2.
Here are 15 facts and figures to know about the 2019 World Series opener.
Age is just a number for Soto, Zim
- Soto had quite the night in his World Series debut, homering in the top of the fourth, hitting a double in the fifth and then singling and stealing a base in the eighth. He became the fourth-youngest player in postseason history to homer in the World Series, trailing only Miguel Cabrera, Andruw Jones and Mickey Mantle. Soto also became the second-youngest player to homer in his World Series debut, trailing only Jones. The home run ball, retrieved from the Minute Maid Park “train tracks” after the game, will be donated by Soto to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Soto is the ninth player in World Series history to have at least three hits, a home run and a stolen base in a single game. It had been more than 20 years since Moises Alou accomplished the feat for the Marlins in Game 5 of the 1997 Series against the Indians.
- With his stolen base in the eighth, Soto became the youngest player in postseason history to homer and steal a base in the same game. The prior youngest had been Derek Jeter, at 22 years and 105 days old, in Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series.
- Soto wasn’t the only Nationals player to homer in Game 1, as Ryan Zimmerman, who debuted for the Nats in their first year in D.C. in 2005, went yard in his first World Series plate appearance in the second inning. At 35 years and 24 days old, he became the third-oldest player to homer in his first career World Series plate appearance, according to STATS. The only players older were Barry Bonds, at 38 years and 87 days, in 2002 for the Giants, and Bob Watson, at 35 years and 193 days, in 1981 for the Yankees.
- With a homer from both Soto and Zimmerman in the game, the Nationals became the first team in World Series history to get a homer from a player 20 years old or younger and another from one 35 years old or older in the same game.
- Zimmerman and Soto had an age difference of 14.1 years when they homered in the same World Series game in Game 1. That’s the third-largest age gap between two players homering in the same World Series game, and the second-largest such gap for teammates in the same World Series game. David Ross and Javier Báez had an age difference of 15.7 years when they homered for the Cubs in 2016’s World Series Game 7. And Eddie Murray of the Indians and Javy Lopez of the Braves had an age difference of 14.7 years when they homered in 1995’s World Series Game 2.
Another Series dinger for Springer
- Springer hit a solo homer to narrow the Nats’ lead to 5-3 in the seventh inning. But it wasn’t any ordinary homer, or even any regular World Series homer. It was a homer in his fifth consecutive World Series game, dating to the 2017 postseason. That broke a tie with Lou Gehrig and Reggie Jackson for the longest streak in postseason history -- one that remains active heading into Game 2 on Wednesday night.
- Springer’s home run came on a 99.2 mph fastball from Nationals reliever Tanner Rainey. It was the fourth-fastest pitch hit for a postseason home run in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008), and the fastest pitch Springer has gone deep on in his career.
- Springer’s homer was the 14th of his postseason career, pushing him back ahead of teammate José Altuve (13) for the most in franchise history, as their back-and-forth battle atop that leaderboard continues.
Cole train hits a snag
- Cole managed to get through seven innings, but he allowed five runs on eight hits -- after giving up one run on 10 hits in 22 2/3 innings across his first three postseason outings. Including the playoffs, Cole had allowed five or more runs in only two of his previous 36 outings in 2019, and not since May 22 against the White Sox.
- The Astros had won each of Cole’s past 16 starts before Game 1, since falling to the Rangers on July 12. Cole had not been charged with a loss in 25 straight starts since that May 22 outing against Chicago, which dropped him to 4-5. He had been 19-0 since then, including the postseason.
- The Astros staked themselves to an early lead with two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Entering Game 1, they’d scored two or more runs in the first inning in 28 games this year, including the playoffs, and had won each of those games. That streak ended Tuesday.
- The Nationals have gotten this far on the strength of their top six pitchers, a group featuring their four starters (sometimes used in relief), as well as ace relievers Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle. Those half-dozen hurlers had accounted for 90 percent of the team’s postseason innings entering the World Series, a trend that held in Game 1. Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, Hudson and Doolittle recorded 26 of Washington’s 27 outs, sandwiched around a one-out stint for Rainey that featured Springer’s homer.
- The Nationals were the ninth team to sweep its League Championship Series since the LCS expanded to a best-of-seven format in 1985. Of the previous eight sweepers, seven lost the World Series. But the good news for the Nats is that the only team in that group to win the Series, the 1995 Braves, also was the only one to come out on top in Game 1. Now Washington aims to follow that same pattern.
- History is on the Nationals’ side in other ways. In all best-of-seven postseason series, teams winning Game 1 have gone on to take the series 113 of 178 times (63 percent), including 25 of the past 31 times (81 percent) in the World Series. But don’t count out the Astros, who just lost Game 1 of the ALCS at home before rebounding to defeat the Yankees.